Title: Immediate conscious experience in wilderness: A phenomenological investigation
Author: Hall, Troy E.; Cole, David N.
Source: In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 37-49.
Description: The nature of the immediate conscious experience (ICE) in outdoor recreation has been the focus of recent research. This paper reports a study of the ICE in three different wilderness settings in the Pacific Northwest. In-depth qualitative interviews (n = 126) and structured questionnaires (n = 252) with visitors contacted along trails, in camp, and at destinations explored the focus of people’s attention, as well as their thoughts and feelings. Most participants engaged cognitively with the natural environment, appreciating the scenery, comparing the experience to other trips, or analyzing the setting around them. Most also reported engaging actively with the environment physically, through travel, weather, and using their senses. Social aspects were important for two-thirds of participants, most of whom were involved in group interaction or the collective construction of their experiences. Only one-third were engaged in personal reflection, which typically involved things outside the wilderness such as work or family. The findings demonstrate the multidimensionality and individuality of wilderness experiences, as well as the somewhat limited ability of managers to affect the visitor experience. However, they also demonstrate that - even in high use locations - at any given time visitors generally have thoughts and feelings that are quite consistent with the types of experiences wilderness managers seek to provide.
Keywords: management frameworks, recreation management, research methods, solitude, technology, visitor density, wilderness experience
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Hall, Troy E.; Cole, David N. 2012. Immediate conscious experience in wilderness: A phenomenological investigation. In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 37-49.
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